NBA Players Have Too Much Financial Leverage

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Employee flexibility and financial leverage are usually good things in the work place, but what if it goes too far? That’s what we’re seeing today in the NBA, as a very good player in Clippers forward Paul George just agreed to a five-year, $226 million contract. No doubt he was worth a boat load of money, as most good players are, but was he worth the max?

NBA players have negotiated their way to a financial stranglehold over NBA owners and it’s killing the sport.

George secured himself a deal that reels in $45.5 million a year until 2025. What has he done to warrant a max deal? He was “good enough” that another team would be willing to fork over the dough, so the Clippers did instead. Capitalism has worked wonders for our countries “normal people”, but what is it doing in the NBA? There’s simply not enough talent to go around for anyone to tell Paul George he isn’t worth his jaw-dropping salary.

This is why I would like to introduce a salary ceiling and I believe it, or a system close to my proposal, would help save the league.

Players should have to meet a certain performance based criteria in order to unlock these mega contracts. For example, Paul George shouldn’t be able to average 21.5 points a game and have the freedom to ask for more money.

Why this system would work

My theory would discourage most NBA superstars from teaming up in free agency. If great players would take a significant financial step back from diminished stats by playing with other stars, would they be as tempted to create sacrifice for a super-team? In Paul George’s case, he went from averaging 28 points per game with the OKC Thunder to 21.5 as Robin to Kawhi Leonard with the Clippers. There was literally no consequence to taking a lesser role. George has less responsibility, he played poorly, yet he still landed a max extension. His salary jumped more than $20 million from his days in OKC, which is utterly ridiculous.

Regardless of how we intend to fix this issue, there’s a problem when any player can have a down year and still cash out. Even got to the point where Paul George recognizes he wasn’t good in this past season.

“I got my old trainer from my MVP season and i’m getting back to killing these mother ******.”

George also bashed head coach Doc Rivers when he said that he was used “like Ray Allen” to help explain last year’s struggles. A player worth north of a quarter billion dollars just said that he needs to be used a certain way to be successful. After that joke of a season PG just put forward that was full of excuses, his payday should’ve been made impossible by the NBA. Adam Silver has to do something.

Check Ben Simmons’ accomplishments that were laid out in this tweet.

Reward what he’s accomplished

Why aren’t we rewarding Ben Simmons for being a two-time All-Star, for being on the All-Defensive first team, or for his Rookie Of The Year accolades? We should. Simmons had, what he would say was a great season and he has no more leverage than Paul George. The Sixers will eventually back in the Brinks truck for Simmons, but it should be because of his individual body of work, not because of leverage NBA players negotiated for.

Will any system that prevents good players from making great money ever happen? There’s no telling, but we should at least explore the possibility of a performance salary limit before it’s too late.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr


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  1. America blows. Who’s with me.
    BLM Playoff P. How you can live in this god forsaken land I will never understand. Look what you put up with. Shackled and chained. You seriously gonna try and squeak by on 226 million. Time we took this struggle to the streets. This cat is worth 20 hundred billion. I making up signs and loading up the U Haul as we speak.

  2. Until the NBA implements a hard salary cap (no Bird rights, no mid-level exceptions, no one team can offer their own players more money, non trade exceptions, none of these types of things) it’s just going to continue to spiral out of control. The only thing I would like to see the NBA do is even out contracts so that teams in markets with high taxes are not penalized, or conversely teams in markets that don’t have income taxes have an advantage.

  3. I think player’s salaries started getting out of control when mediocre to bad talent was getting something like 12 million a year. Exhibit A Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

    But it’s China bucks so I guess they better hope President Xi keeps them afloat to afford this.

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